Music for Becoming

This afternoon, I have my first music rehearsal for Ying Zhou and Archana Kumar’s dance called Becoming. Their duet is about the negotiations their bodies have made and continue to make while performing in the States. Since moving to Seattle, Ying, born and raised in China with various dance trainings, and Archana, born and raised in India with primarily a Kathak Dance background, have been performing and training with other contemporary dancers. Becoming shows how their Asian movement vocabulary and bodies have been changed by Western dance.

My entry point into this work was when they mentioned a question they regularly get asked: “When are you going back?” Putting these seemingly innocuous words through variations, isolations, expansions, and retrogrades, I have found a dreamscape of sounds that will both serve as a foundation for the athletic moments, as well as the quiet storytelling sections.

Moreover, I’ve realized that “When are you going back?” is as much about travel through time as it is travel through location. In the music for Becoming, I investigate how voices retain the past and project into the future. When I was a child, I wanted to be able to read books and leave home whenever I wanted to as adults seemed free to do. Reading and leaving seemed like the ultimate grown-up privilege.

In Becoming, I hear anxiety: the neigh of horses, the zoom of jet planes, and the stillness of waiting. I hope also to find girl-crone sounds that travel through time as well as the cultural terrain that Ying and Archana have mapped out. Luckily, I’m working with Karen Lindenberg and Kim Ruehl, two super folk singers, along with James Whetzel, a talented singer, multi-instrumentalist, and ethnomusicologist. We will explore the text through simple harmonic and rhythmic filters to produce a multi-layered, in-transit music for Becoming.